According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), the premier national trade group for the US casino and gambling markets, 2021 has been the industry’s best year yet. Year-end figures released by the AGA show that casinos have hit the jackpot and generated around $53 billion in revenue, an all-time high.
These numbers show that in-person gambling in brick-and-mortar venues remains the primary source of revenue for the gambling industry, despite online and mobile gambling and sports betting expanding across the US in recent years. Ultimately, Americans wagered more money than ever before in 2021.
A 77% Increase Since 2020
This $53 billion revenue netted by casinos and gambling venues in 2021 is $23 billion more than revenues generated in 2020. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the US gambling market saw the lowest revenue levels since 2003. That year, the industry generated just over $28 billion from legal and regulated gambling in 11 states compared to almost three times as many jurisdictions in 2020.
2021’s figure is even 21% higher than the previous best year on record, 2019, just before the coronavirus forced many land-based venues across the country to temporarily close. Reports from the AGA’s Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker indicate that this year’s figures break the previous record of 2019’s $43 billion.
Figures from the AGA also show that the gambling market’s quarterly revenue set an all-time high. Q4 of 2021 generated a massive $14.3 billion compared to revenues from Q3 from the same year at $13.9 billion.
Overall, these records demonstrate that many US bettors have not been deterred from visiting gambling venues in person, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, most land-based casinos have spent millions of dollars on health and safety protocols in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus.
Gambling Industry Heading In An “Optimistic” Direction
The AGA’s CEO and president, Bill Miller, noted that 2021’s figures are “nothing short of remarkable.” Miller also stated that the industry this past year has effectively met consumers “how and where they wish to engage, whether at a casino or through mobile gaming.”
While 2021’s revenues do not include tribal casinos and gambling venues, who separately report revenues, Miller remarked that many tribal leaders have also observed that 2021 has been their best year on record. According to the AGA, Native-American-owned gambling venues and casinos may report as much as $40 billion in revenue.
Overall, the gambling industry’s incredible recovery rate sets it apart from other sectors in the wider economy. Miller has stated that he is incredibly “optimistic” about where the industry is heading.
Revenue Records In US States
33 US states (plus Washington DC) now offer commercial and regulated gambling. Yet, in 2021, the AGA documented that 23 gaming jurisdictions set individual records for gambling revenue. Still, despite these growing figures, the entertainment capital of the world remains on top. Las Vegas saw an incredible $7 billion in gross gambling revenue in 2021, with the Garden State’s Atlantic City coming in second place with $2.6 billion in gross gambling revenue.
While the gambling market’s surge in mobile sports betting is gaining vast amounts of attention in the news, in-person wagering still rules supreme. The report from the AGA noted that the opening of brick-and-mortar venues facilitated the gambling industry’s recovery in 2021. For example, land-based slot and table gaming revenue increased 6.6% from previous records set in 2019 with a $44.9 billion revenue.
Numerous reports documented that traffic is down at brick-and-mortar casinos compared to rates from before the pandemic. However, a boost in customer spending in many markets is bringing the gambling industry to new heights. For example, the average age of land-based casino goers fell to 44 years old, compared to 49 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The iGaming market is also seeing significant revenue growth. In the six states where this form of gambling is permitted, the industry has generated over $3.1 billion in revenue. This profit has seen an almost 140% increase from 2020.
Michigan and Connecticut launched online gambling markets in 2021, yet New Jersey remains the top dog regarding iGaming revenue. Pennsylvania and Michigan come in close second and third, respectively, but all three states generated over $1 billion in gambling revenue in 2021. These three states have all smashed previous records.
The Growth Of Regulated Sports Betting
Similarly, regulated sports betting saw massive growth in 2021. The industry generated over $57 billion in handle and almost $4.3 billion in revenue, an increase of 165% and 177% from 2020, respectively. Arguably, the launch of new commercial sports betting markets in seven new states across the US attributed to this rapid growth. For example, Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, South Dakota, Virginia, and Wyoming launched sports gambling markets in 2021.
Now, over 100 million American bettors can place legal sports wagers in more than 30 US states. And while Nevada, Michigan, Illinois, and Pennsylvania come close, New Jersey holds its position as the US’ top sports betting market for the second year in a row, seeing more than $815 million in sports betting revenue.
Moving forward to 2022, seven new states are considering launching sports betting, such as California, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Oklahoma. On the other hand, four new states are deliberating iGaming, including Indiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, and New York.